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Streets to be shut outside primaries to make school run cleaner and safer - UK

Photo issued by Newcastle City Council of Cllr Arlene Ainsley (left) with Head Teacher at Hotspur Primary School, Kevin McVittie, and pupils Isan, Harrison, Zephie and Harry from years three and four. Streets outside 11 primaries, including Hotspur, will be shut in a pilot scheme to make the school run cleaner and safer. Pic by Steve Brock/Newcastle City Council

By Tom Wilkinson, PA

Streets outside 11 primaries will be shut in a pilot scheme to make the school run cleaner and safer.

Newcastle City Council announced it will trial temporary road closures at drop-off and pick-up times, stopping parents from parking close to the school gates.

The School Streets scheme will be tried from this summer across the city and is expected to reduce air pollution, increase road safety and ease parking troubles felt by people living close by.

Headteachers hope by closing roads for short periods, children will feel safer walking, scooting or cycling to school.

Northumbria Police has welcomed the idea and will work with the council to monitor and enforce the restrictions.

Kevin McVittie, headteacher of Hotspur Primary in Heaton, which is taking part in the scheme, said roads around his school could become very congested.

He said: “The scheme also builds on the messages about healthy living that we give to children in school by further encouraging walking, cycling or scooting to school.”

Ben Wassall, headteacher at Chillingham Road Primary School, said: “This is a huge step in the right direction and will reassure our many families and children who walk, bike, scoot or skate their way to school.

“Moreover, this will improve the air quality for all of us at Chillingham Road and finally banish pavement parking and idling from outside our school.”

Councillor Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality, said similar schemes had been brought in elsewhere.

She said: “We’ve consistently wanted to launch School Streets here but haven’t been given the same powers as places like London, so need to rely on support from the police.”

Sergeant Jane Munro, of Northumbria Police’s road safety team, said: “We welcome the introduction of this trial as we work with partners to find innovative ways to reduce the number of serious collisions and keep pedestrians safe.

“Unfortunately, despite our warnings, motorists continue to drive irresponsibly near many of our region’s schools and so it would be wrong if we did not explore these kinds of measures.”

The council said the School Streets programme would see vehicles stopped from using roads between the hours of 8am and 9.30am or between 2.30pm and 4pm but access will be permitted for residents and blue badge holders.

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